by John Ryan, Chief Strategy Officer at Fastlane
The prolific marketing writer Seth Godin talks about persuasion when it comes to marketing. His view is that the ability to persuade is marketing’s goal and not the ability to convince. Relying on emotion to change behavior is a proven consumer-based marketing approach that works. However, from a B2B standpoint, you will not get the opportunity to persuade unless you have properly delivered an argument. This approach confusion has cost marketers millions of dollars and many sleepless nights.
Let us define what an argument is and is not. An argument is not a fight, it is meant to be helpful to both parties in a discussion. A solid argument is not merely persuasion because persuasion can happen without the use of solid reasons. A car salesman can persuade you (without the burden of having to provide solid reasons) to buy that El Camino with the lit wheels.
Argument ingredients include points of reason that support a conclusion that should also be included in the argument. The magic in here is that your points of reason must be believable in order to support the conclusion. If a customer believes and values the conclusion of the argument, the marketer or salesperson is in a superior position to then persuade customers to change behavior.
With this in mind, let’s go to B2B marketing. My observation is that most B2B companies go to market without a powerful argument. They can cite a few examples of successful clients, but those customers may not represent the majority of outcomes. A powerful argument inspires the buyer to change behavior with its conclusion and here is the kicker – it needs to travel well. It needs to be simple, relevant and memorable. For many companies, marketers are lacking the solid reasoning with proof that would help customers reach a conclusion that invites changed behavior. When a B2B marketer fails to deliver a powerful argument with the necessary ingredients, too much burden is put on the sales team’s ability to persuade. This translates into higher sales costs, longer sales cycles and frustration. How strong is your argument and what if it were stronger?